July 27th, 2008
03:37 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama defends overseas trip, 'I admit we did it really well'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/27/art.unity.gi.jpg
caption="Sen. Barack Obama says he is not sure what the political effect of his trip will be."]

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) – Just back from his overseas trip, Barack Obama appeared before a convention of minority journalists in his hometown of Chicago Sunday morning to discuss, among other things, the eight-day swing through the Middle East and Europe, saying, “I admit we did it really well.”

Asked by CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux for his impressions of the trip, Obama started by praising U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has come under fire in recent days by the McCain campaign for canceling a trip to visit wounded troops while in Germany. Obama says he didn’t want the visit to appear political.

Eager to quell criticism of an international trip taken while polls show domestic issues are a higher priority for voters, Obama argued in his opening remarks that “they are connected to the problems we face abroad.”

“I don't know the political effect of this when I come back,” he later admitted. “A week of me focusing on international issues doesn't necessarily translate into higher poll numbers here in the United States, because people are understandably concerned about the immediate effects of the economy,” he said. “And that's what we will be talking about for the duration.”

“I do think that, in terms of me governing, being an effective president, that that trip was helpful,” he continued, “because I think I've established relationships and a certain bond of trust with key leaders around the world who have taken measure of my positions and how I operate and I think can come away with some confidence that this is somebody I can deal with."

Asked to respond to accusations of “audacity” – a prominent word in Obama’s vocabulary – about a trip that included a speech to over 200,000 people in Berlin, Obama quickly pointed to rival John McCain who also visited the Middle East and Europe following his primary victory, “and nobody suggested that that was "audacious."”

“I was puzzled by this notion that somehow what we were doing was in any way different from what Senator McCain or a lot of presidential candidates have done in the past,” Obama said.

“Now, I admit we did it really well,” he added to laughter from the audience, “but that shouldn't be a strike against me.”

No rest for the weary, Obama leaves Chicago Monday morning for a week of campaigning that includes stops in Missouri, Iowa and Florida.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (411 Responses)
  1. niki

    I couldn't be more pleased with senator Obama's overseas trip. He hit it out of the ball park just as I expected, and this trip should leave no doubt in anyone's mind that he will be an exceptional leader at home and around the world. The world leaders Obama met with were clearly impressed with him and seemed more than ready to work with him on a host of matters that we all know need to be addressed.

    July 27, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. Russ

    Someone at CNN should ask McCain why he did a FUNDRAISER in London instead of visiting troops in Germany when he made his own overseas trip in March.

    July 27, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Mike from Westchester

    Well here is McCain now admiting that the 16 month timetable is okay. You know, the one he has been criticizing. Of course he corrected himself and called it a "time horizon", because, of course, that's completely different than a "time table".

    BLITZER: Why do you think he said that 16 months is basically a pretty good timetable?

    MCCAIN: He said it's a pretty good timetable based on conditions on the ground. I think it's a pretty good timetable, as we should - or horizons for withdrawal. But they have to be based on conditions on the ground.

    Then he goes on to make an impossible promise:

    MCCAIN: I guarantee you, after they withdraw under what we are doing, we'll never have to go back.

    First Bush adopts Obama's call to shift priorities toward Afghanistan.
    Then they negitiate with N. Korea and Iran, after accusing Obama of being like a Nazi appeaser for suggesting it.
    Now Maliki and, incredibly, even McCain endorse a 16 month timetable.

    They accuse Obama not getting it right in the first place when they know, good and well, that had Obama made the decision in the first place, we would not be in this mess.

    ....and foreign policy is the one area where McCain is competitive with Obama. Better make that zero areas when McCain is better.

    July 27, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. Scott

    Other obvious comments that the media could highlight:
    1) Water is wet
    2) The sun is bright
    3) It tends to stay hot in the summer.

    Of course the trip went well, and things also went well on this side also for him. For starters John McSame said that we should be out of Iraq in around 16 months, sound familiar. So now McSame is picking up on Obama's ideas. Could McSame just drop out of the race?

    July 27, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. aware

    What an arrogant, nauseating pipsqueak Obama is!

    McCain took very appropriate low key trips.

    Obama took "all about me" politically expedient press extravaganzas! Imagine the audacity of not visiting soldiers because you couldn't take your cameras!

    This guy is wearing very thin with his one act, no substance, saccharine readings and photo opportunities.

    Please, give it up Obama. I can no longer stand the sight of your phony Cheshire-Cat grin! 🙁

    Former Democrat voting for McCain 08! 🙂

    July 27, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Independent

    Welcome back OBAMA! I was impressed,!
    Now its Time to talk about the economy

    July 27, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Elena

    Obama is absolutely right. Is the media going to try to spin this amazing trip into some kind of failure??? Give me a break. Right now any honest person knows that Obama is the most "presidential" candidate, with the greatest chance of repairing the mess made by Bush/Cheney both at home and abroad. Mc Cain looks pathetic, whinning, with nothing new to offer. So what's holding the American people back ? Hmmmmm.........

    July 27, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. bt

    Obama, I think your were very warmly accepted in the Mid East & Europe, and I know they think very higly of you as we do here in America...not only did you look very Presidential you understand what is going on in the World of today...Change we can count on...you just continue to do what you do as all eyes are on you but no all want to give you your due...if you had not gone they would have talked about you and if you did go they talked about you...so you or in a whirlwind of dam if you do and dam if you don't but you always make the right decisions and that is what McSame and his people don't like..I have much admiration & respect for you and may God continue to Bless you and your Family....incidently, what happened to McSame this morning...he did not appear on CNN as was planned...he never shows for anything that has and audience asking questions but yet he wants to debate you....no, not really he wants you at a town meeting...doesn't appear he does well there either..you have really taken him out of his element...I don't think this man is ever going to be right again...don't worry about the polls, they will be bback where they should be as McSame is full of the Same.....GO OBAMA!!!!

    July 27, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. David

    The stature, the charisma, the demeanor of a world leader. Already accepted so by the crowds, the media and the leaders throughout the world. The one who reconciles America with the rest of the world. Barack, you're the man !

    July 27, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. What if?

    THIS IS SAD…….ALL of you McCain, was Clinton and undecided were quick to judge Obama for not visiting these countries during the primary, especially McSane, he action were worst then a kid in grade school. McSane and camp bulling ways to use against Obamas to win votes, was a shame and disgrace for someone who wants to lead our Country. McSane and his camp went as far as to put a day counter on their site and brag about it. Now that he can no longer use his day counter, he see that bulling only backfires on the one who tries to use it against someone. McSane should be the last person to cry wolf and complain about Obama and the way he positively related to the leaders of these countries. McSane made sure that OBAMA was hounded UNTIL HE AGREED TO go to these Countries that McSane bragged about he had been recently. NOW all he wants to do is complain or should I said cry foul.

    Thank you McBush for your tactics and bulling that sent our next President to these countries, OBAMA, YOU WERE A MAN OF GRACE AND RELATED TO THESE WORLD LEADER VERY MAGNIFICANT!, you have proven that you can SIT and talk to leaders of these Countries without threats of war.

    Obama 08

    July 27, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. Lim

    The Obama campaign orchestrated the trips to convince skeptical
    American voters that their candidate is presidential material on the
    world stage, with the implication that therefore he is qualified for the
    job.

    The problem is that skeptical American voters think that Senator
    Obama is unqualified for the job because of his rather limited
    experience and thin resume, all the window dressings not
    withstanding.

    July 27, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Moe, NY

    Job well done Obama! For the first time in years I am proud to be an American (since Bush and his cronies took over). To witness another country waving our American flag instead of burning it goes beyond what words can convey. Thank you for representing America in such a wonderful way....your speech in Germany was truly enlightening to America and the rest of the world.

    July 27, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Alfred.Jr Arinze

    Yeah, from angle of anticipation, I believe that his tour embolden his capabalities to handle foriegn policies and well represent the United State Of American, I look forward to more of this when he become the president. I suggest that these will change people's view of his abilities to be a commader in cheif, He is not less affective, but reviews his stance with deep incite from the political resolutions.

    July 27, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. bt

    Obama, I think your were very warmly accepted in the Mid East & Europe, and I know they think very higly of you as we do here in America...not only did you look very Presidential you understand what is going on in the World of today...Change we can count on...you just continue to do what you do as all eyes are on you but not all want to give you your due...if you had not gone they would have talked about you and if you did go they talked about you...so you or in a whirlwind of dam if you do and dam if you don't but you always make the right decisions and that is what McSame and his people don't like..I have much admiration & respect for you and may God continue to Bless you and your Family....incidently, what happened to McSame this morning...he did not appear on CNN as was planned...he never shows for anything that has and audience asking questions but yet he wants to debate you....no, not really he wants you at a town meeting...doesn't appear he does well there either..you have really taken him out of his element...I don't think this man is ever going to be right again...don't worry about the polls, they will be bback where they should be as McSame is full of the Same.....GO OBAMA!!!!

    July 27, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. Woman for Obama

    I thought that Obama was amazing this afternoon at the convention considering jet-lag I am sure and lack of sleep. It caused me to onate $21.00 to Obama and I have donated every month since January!

    Woman for Obama from Texas.

    July 27, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. linda from South Dakota

    thank you obama,, your trip was a success,,, i truely believe you have done good in visiting with thses other countries, by letting them know out side of the story,, not mccains< whose very jealous now,, he only hs expeience as a vet from being over there,,, do not take anything he says serious as he doesnt remember what he says anyways,, my vote goes to you obama, you have spoken and will reign in the United states as president,,, after so many of the bush years,, it will take years to fix but we as americans understand this,,,its almost over and we can celebrate your victory,, go obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Jon Fitz for Obama

    everyone if john Mccain knows how to win wars what war did he win and where was he at on hurricane katrina

    July 27, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. Canadian fan

    Congratulations Obama for establishing a better rapport with world leaders. This is so necessary for all of our futures. I don't think Americans really understand how vital it is for rest of us in the world to have an American President who is respected and willing to work together with everyone to ensure that Americans and all other world citizens have a chance for a peaceful existence which in turn will make all of our economies more stable. Much success in November!!

    July 27, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. Nick, NY

    I feel sorry for those who do not understand the global economy and actions that happen across borders.

    July 27, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. Republican4obama

    Obama did a great job representing America in Europe!

    i was proud to see the pro american sentiment
    and how interested the world is in our presidential election.

    when i lived in europe last year their was lot of
    anti american feelings and propaganda.
    they described americans as arrogant and inflexible

    this is a direct result of bush's foreign policies
    and his "cowboy antics".

    i voted for bush in the last election
    but i won't make the same mistake this time
    by voting for MCSAME

    this will be the first time i cast my vote for a democrat

    OBAMA 08

    July 27, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. Obama bring it on WE LOVE YOU 08/12

    Your way Obama is at the top /What a great leader you are going to be for this Country and the World 08/12 you are already mending fences.
    People all over the world love you and this movement has to be the largest in history .
    Never mind if it causes jealousy for a blank slate ,stale warmonger
    you can't win them all and that one don't even count but you sure will win being President Of The Unites States of America 08/12 .
    SO BRING IT ON YOU ARE OUR MAN : )

    NOW THE PATH WILL LEAD THIS MOVEMENT ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITEHOUSE 08/12
    OMG wonderfull is the word

    July 27, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. Kyle

    I don't understand why people argue that Obama's trip was "arrogant" or "a premature victory lap". McCain took the exact same trip in March, a few weeks,m after he won his party's nomination. So if Obama showed any arrogance by meeting with other world leaders (which he didn't, since US Senators frequently meet with other heads of state), so did McCain!

    Just because 200,000 people showed up in Berlin to hear Obama speak doesn't make him arrogant. McCain spoke in all the same places and in Columbia and Mexico. It's not Obama's fault no one cared enough to come see him speak!

    July 27, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. Fred C Dobbs

    Wow, you really "ripped" Barack Obama in this article.

    What, you didn't ask him about his trip to the beach or the note in the wall?

    Crap in, crap out! Another fine job by CNN, the last word, the very last word in journalism!

    July 27, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. TK

    Yes He did it.

    OBAMA 08.

    July 27, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. shea

    Obama is giving Europe the image of American greatness.And instead seeing the whole thing as a joyous occasion some people tried so hard to make something negative about it. The whole media hoopla was designed to try to catch Obama in some toxic gaffe that would sink his candidacy.Well, no gaffe from Obama but plenty from Mccain. Obama rose to the occasion and showed the world the smart, articulate statesman he really is.

    July 27, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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